Visit Rodez (Midi-Pyrenees, France)
Famous as the departmental Capital of the Aveyron, the quiet medieval city of Rodez has more on offer to the tourist than might at first appear. Now that Ryanair are flying in regularly to its airport from both Stansted and Dublin, more people are becoming aware of its existence but many still fail to call in, as they head for destinations further afield.
To appreciate the architecture at its best you can’t go far wrong if you pick up a map from Rodez Tourist Office with a walking tour which will lead you around the historical centre where key places to see are conveniently marked with numbered plaques.
High on the list of places to see is the Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame (built from the 13th to 16th century). Built in red sandstone it towers over the surrounding city, forming part of fortifications that were added at a later date.
Behind the Cathedral the old medieval streets sprawl through little alleyways and pedestrianized shopping lanes studded with gothic wall art. You will find an excellent range of boutiques and chain stores here, but be warned, you will need your cheque book to go on a good spending spree! If markets are more your thing then there are open air markets in Rodez three days a week throughout the year.
If shopping is not really for you then two great cultural visits are on offer: the Beaux-Arts Museum which exhibits the works of local sculptor Denys Puech, and the newly renovated Fenaille Museum of History and Archeology which houses amongst other artefacts, a unique collection of Menhir stone statues and has a Renaissance Mansion incorporated in its centre.
Because Rodez is a departmental capital it is possible to find events all year around with theatre and music concerts held on a regular basis. Annual events which are well worth attending if you visit at the right time are held in the public gardens below the cathedral, the most notable being the firework display for Bastille Day (July 14th), the Music Festival called ‘Estivada’ (mid July) and not to be missed, ‘the Pétagne championships' (held late July early August).
Rodez is also a great place to visit to eat out. There is a huge choice of restaurants, and generally the quality is good. There are many cheap and cheerful ‘Menu du Jour’ restaurants around the Cathedral, but you can also find fine dining.
Three restaurants I have visited and can recommend are: Goûts et Couleurs who offer quality cuisine, not your cheapest option, but served in an elegant setting and well worth the price tag; La Taverne, tucked away up a side street, where you eat down in atmospheric cellars, with a wide range of local dishes cooked to perfection and good value too; and for a nice change from French Cuisine the Vietnamese influenced Royal Saigon where food is freshly cooked to order.
Arriving in Rodez
If you are arriving by car then I suggest you head in for the town centre towards the imposing cathedral of Notre Dame, take a right hand turn in front of the cathedral and head for the Foch underground car park. Parking charges are reasonable and when you emerge from underground you will find yourself in an open square, next to the excellent Tourist Office where you can pick up lots of handy leaflets for visits and events both in the city itself and the surrounding area.
Scenery and countryside around Rodez
Villages to visit in the region include Entraygues (follow the signs for the campervan parking for a nice picnic spot), Espalion and Belcastel - and many others you will come across as you travel around.
As you heard north from Rodez you will see signs for the 'Trou de Bozouls'. A curious village well worth the detour for a quick look, Bozouls is set on either side of a rocky canyon, with the houses built along the edges. Hard to imagine who thought it was a good idea to build a village where the two parts are separated by a large precipice but impressive all the same.
Apart from the many beautiful villages, it is the countryside of the region around Rodez that is the big attraction.
If you follow the Lot Valley from Grand-Vabre (just north of Conques) towards Entraygues it is very attractive, and the last few kilometres especially so. Likewise if you head west from Grand Vabre.
The valley of the Viaur River to the south of Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is also very attractive. Wherever you go you won't find it hard to find beautiful scenery in the region.
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Rodez, Aveyron, Midi-Pyrenees, 12000 || GPS: latitude 44.3506, longitude 2.575
Map of Rodez & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Rodez, France
- Jardin d'Eden du château du Colombier - remarkable garden (11km)
- Belcastel - most beautiful village (19km)
- Estaing pont sur le Lot (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (24km)
- Estaing - most beautiful village (24km)
- Espalion Pont Vieux (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (24km)
- Sauveterre-de-Rouergue - town of art and history (25km)
- Saint-Come-d'Olt - most beautiful village (26km)
- Conques abbatiale Sainte-Foy (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (31km)
- Conques - most beautiful village (31km)
- Conques pont sur le Dourdou (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (31km)
Market days in Rodez: Regular market(s) are held in Rodez each Wednesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Rodez (Francais)